Some colors excite us, and others turn us off—even if the design is the same. It's no surprise that color is a key factor affecting our impression of products. With accent panels running the spectrum in 20 patterns, the new WALKMAN® E series satisfies quite a range of tastes.
Sugiyama: How could we tempt more people than ever to try the WALKMAN® E series? We found one answer in offering more color options. The first thing you notice about these models is the chance to change the panel to suit your preferred color and appearance. Initially, you'll choose one of the five basic color sets at the store, and then you can apply a panel in one of the two colors provided. One set includes Urban Black and Shiny Silver panels, for example. This way, you're sure to like one of the colors. To make the new E series even more enticing, we worked with members of the Color & Material Design Team from an early stage in development.
Fukamatsu: We initially imagined a line of five basic colors. One thing we had to consider, though, was how E series models look in a computer USB port when users connect them. People would probably appreciate a color that complements their computer. So one priority was to offer colors matching VAIO case colors.
Still, we wanted the E series to appeal to everyone—from young women to elderly men, and from those with conservative tastes to those with a cutting-edge sense of style. And just a handful of colors is hardly enough to please everyone. That's when we decided to branch out from these five basic colors by developing subcategories, which we described in terms of a particular image or character. As we sought images such as Modern, sharp and Shiny, elegant, we described each style on an "image board" that we shared with members in engineering and planning departments.
This helped us develop ten colors in all for the five basic sets, but this was still not enough colors to satisfy the large segment of users we were targeting. It was then that we decided to introduce accent panels—optional accessories combining colors and patterns for a more individual touch. After this, we had 20 different panels ready by the time the player was launched.